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Diving with Orcas in the Norwegian Fjords

Diving with Orcas in the Norwegian Fjords
By 2 years ago 21460 Views No comments

Diving with orcas aka killer whales is exhilarating and at times overwhelming experience, no doubt. Cold and crystal clear fjords of Norway are one of those few places where you can bring your dream dive to live. Here is what Tomas has got to tell us about his experience.

Arctic Circle, Fjords & Orcas

About 500 kilometers North of the arctic circle large schools of herrings enter the deep fjords by the end of October. They come from arctic feeding grounds followed by orcas, humpbacks, fin whales and sea eagles. The whales gorge on herring before continuing on to southern latitudes.

As the sun appeared on the horizon we steered out onto a mirror-like fjord. Sea eagles were flying above us and the snow-clad mountains were framed in a serene landscape. Shortly after as we entered a shallower fjord, we could hear the strong breathing sound of the orcas and then we saw a big black dorsal fin of a male ahead of us. Since the dorsal fin never disappeared completely below the surface, we could follow it easily. After the orcas feeding frenzy, the sea eagles picked the herring shoal remains from the surface whilst an orca family performed spy jumps and we took the first pictures of the day.

We left the shallow fjord and continued on to an open and deeper one. Suddenly we heard loud breathing sounds near the boat. The engine was shut down and we drifted through the water. In front of us the water surface was broken by several giant ridges. It was a group of humpbacks searching for herring. As we followed them more humpbacks joined the group. When they found what they had been searching for they dived to the depths one after the other. The water exploded a few minutes later as the herring were herded to the surface by the feeding whales. They leapt out of the water as they gorged themselves. Then they disappeared to herd more herring to the surface to continue their feast.

Descending into Water

I could not wait any longer so I told the captain that I was ready to go into the water and I pulled on the hood and closed the dry suit in anticipation. I sat on the rail with my back facing the water with the camera in my hand when everyone started cheering and their cameras were clicking, then the captain shouted NOW. I rolled backwards in to the water and when the air bubbles disappeared in front of my face I saw 6 humpbacks pass at 1 meter distance. They had just finished their meal and were hopefully stodged. As I looked backwards I saw another 2 coming towards me. My pulse went up to 150 and I could feel my heart beating as I kicked my flippers to move position to avoid a collision. Then I saw a big eye looking at me and felt a thrill running through my body. When they swam away in the dark green water the last, I saw of them was their big tail fins.

Diving with Orcas

Once back on board, we followed a fast moving, larger group of orcas who were hunting for herring. Suddenly, they began to form in circles to collaborate. As they moved quickly it was not so easy to find the right time to enter the water. Getting in and out of the cold water took a lot of energy and as it began to darken at lunchtime, it was time to return.

In the evening weather conditions were perfect for Northern Lights. I set up my camera on the stand out on the jetty and soon I saw something fluttering over the sky. I took a picture and while I was waiting to see it in the display, the green Northern Lights started to move over the fjord like a magical dance. This amazingly beautiful phenomenon, the Aurora Borealis lasted for about 1 hour. These animals combined with the Northern Lights make a dream scenario for nature lovers and photographers.

Text & Photo by Tomas Jansson